Showing posts from December, 2011

An End of the Year Missive: I Still Believe in Santa Claus (Parental Warning: Contains SPOILERS!)

Dearest Readers,

Here we are, another year is almost at an end, and the whirl of the holiday season has many of us spinning like a dreidel that won't stop! Even your very own Shoestring Sally is right tuckered out from all the hooplah and impending hoopla and needs a rest , thus, this will be our last post of 2011. But 2012 will be a humdinger: more fashion, more art and more DIY doings for the fiscally impaired. Ah, but enough of such boostering! For tonight I want to share with you a little story about how I learned Santa Clause isn't real..or do I mean is real?

I was that child who got picked on in elementary school for being the last kid in class to think there was a Santa Claus, and there was one day shortly after Christmas break when I was taunted and teased for expressing my belief out loud. Once home from school, utterly distraught and fighting back tears, I sought out my mom. "Is it true that Santa isn't real? Is it, Mommy? Teeeeeeell meeeeeeeee!"

Flash Mobs, Faith and Materialism

The flash mob phenom of recent years has so permeated our collective consciousness that a cell phone company used the premise for one of its commercials. I find it fascinating that modern technology plays a pivotal role in this activity, organizing mobbers via text message & web-accessible phones, when really flash mobs are an attempt to restore that human connection we have lost due to this very technology. While often flash mobs are motivated by superficial attention-seeking, the underlying desire is to reach people in person, in the flesh (or maybe in the flash?), to break free from the virtual world and to become a part of--however briefly--that which is the tangible world. We are so detached from others, and more and more people are starting to feel the soul sting of such a lack.

Perhaps that is why I find the following video so fascinating & so moving:

Inexpensive Inspirations: Pattern Scavenger!

In my recent post Patterns Galore! I vowed to set out on a pattern scavenger hunt to scope out eye-catching designs that might inspire me (and maybe you!) in future creative endeavors. And I decided to start in my own backyard, er, rather apartment. Mission: look at  the objects surrounding me in a new light by noting the designs, colors, textures...and of course patterns that make up or shake up the item in question.

Through the looking glass I went...and this is what I found there:
1.) This flocked scarf has been a wardrobe mainstay of mine for over half a decade. Through the years I've tied it in all manner of configurations around my neck, as well as wear it in lieu of a belt to add a pop of pattern to a plain trench coat and it makes a wonderfully flirty sash for a simple frock. And one winter I even used it as a decorative panel for a bed canopy I'd made! I will keep it til it's in tatters...and then I'll probably turn it into something else!


Ah Freilichen Chanukah: May your light shine throughout the year!

Shoestring Songs: Coat of Many Colors

This afternoon I found myself thinking about the classic country song Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton & how that song touches on many of the themes I like to address here on Shoestring News. And so I thought I would post it! This video is from Ms. Parton's 1974 appearance on The Porter Wagoner Show:

On a side note --wow that's some hairdo! When I was young, my southern Mama (who was also a hairstylist)  was forever after me to wear "Big Hair", but I think she's finally given up and accepted the fact that my pixie is here to stay. Love you, Mom!

Inexpensive Inspirations: Experimental Cinema - 2, Patterns Galore!

The other day, I was huffin' and puffin' about how much I hate Louis Vuitton's trademark pattern, but don't get me wrong, patterns are wonderful! Look around: what patterns pop out at you? What inexpensive fabrics can you buy to create your own home decor soft goods or luxe-look clothing? In the coming days, I will be going on a pattern scavenger hunt, both around my apartment and around the town. What will I find and how will it inspire me? We'll just have to wait and see...

In the meantime, check out these trailers for The Patterns Trilogy, a surreal and kitschy series of musical films from one of my favorite Canadian experimental filmmakers, Jamie Travis:

Inexpensive Inspirations: The Varga Girls

Today I salute pin-up artist Alberto Vargas, an illustrator who was instrumental in shaping the "vintage pin-up aesthetic". Sexy, sassy and spirited --that's a lot to convey with pencil and paint but he did it. And when it comes to pulling off the breezy sex-kitten-next-door styles of the 1940s & 50s, nothing's better than channeling your inner "Varga Girl"!

I kept it pretty clean here...but Vargas also did illustrations that, um, left less to the imagination, so to speak. But sometimes leaving a little more to the imagination is far more exciting --especially when it comes to fashion. So remember that next time you nab a slinky vintage cocktail dress or hit the beach in a suit that evokes Esther Williams, Betty Grable, Hedy Lamarr or Marilyn Monroe: a peek-a-boo attitude is what's key, not necessarily peek-a-boo clothing!

What is of Infinite Worth to You that Doesn't Cost a Thing?

My answer: Daydreaming

Over 3,000 Reasons to Hate Louis Vuitton

To borrow a bit from Bill Maher --NEW RULE: The only thing from Louis Vuitton one is allowed to own and still be remotely elegant is its classic line of luggage. That's it. Anything else is déclassé. And even that is now suspect. Of course, this happened quite awhile ago & I am not the first person to comment on it. In the last decade, LV handbags have been so conspicuously displayed on the arms of pop-singers, starlets and other tabloid fodder that the brand has lost its exclusivity, and alas, we live in an age where celebrities are more often tacky than classy. So many women have copied the trend, and knock-offs permeate the market. This is amusing, because frankly the LV's signature brown and beige pattern is one of the least attractive brand emblems ever created, and I honestly don't think it would be quite so popular if it came from Target. That's right, I said it. Those bags are damn ugly! Anytime I see one (which is daily in decadent--and knock-off saturated…

Readers' Spotlight: Deck the Halls!

The holiday season often brings out the crafty & creative in folks, proving once again that it is the simple joys that make life worthwhile. In that spirit, I'd like to share with you this imaginative wall hanging submitted by readerCINDY ABELL OF ASHLAND, VIRGINIA:

Yes! Yes! More About Hats!

It's true, I have been a bit of a mad hatter as of late. I simply can't sing enough praises for that sorely under-utilized accoutrement. Tonight I found myself thinking about "church hats". In recent years, that term has become synonymous with the tradition of African-American women sporting fancy hats to worship & this has become the subject of books, plays, etc. Perusing the internet tonight I found a slew of information about this very topic --here is one very interesting article that explores the cultural & social significance of church hats in the African-American community. Do check it out! A Google image search of "church hats" exposed my peepers to a breathtaking array of elegant, and sometimes traffic-stopping, head wear. What a versatile accessory! And that's the very best kind you know.

Another wonderful thing about hats is they can be done over much more easily than many other articles of clothing! Swap out some trim or attach a diff…

Coming Soon: "Over 1000 (strike that --3,000) Reasons to Hate Louis Vuitton"

Women in Hats: A Postscript

My recent post Inexpensive Inspirations: Women in Hats demonstrated how the right chapeau can add a dash of flair to one's outfit without costing a pretty penny. But I did forget one other crucial benefit hats can offer:

They can help get you through a BAD HAIRCUT!
And trust me, Readers, this week Sally knows all about that:  I keep a smile on my face thanks to a jaunty beret!

Inexpensive Inspirations: Experimental Cinema!

Going off the beaten pop-culture path can uncover some truly mind bending aesthetic marvels. Here's a short film that is a celebration of vintage 1920s style: Kenneth Anger's Puce Moment, a visually hypnotic meditation on screen sirens of the silent era and the dresses they wore. Filmed in 1949, Anger added the trippy soundtrack by Jonathan Halper in the late 1960s. An interesting bit of gossip: the actress Yvonne Marquis is rumored to have been a mistress of Lázaro Cárdenas, the one-time President of Mexico!

Kenneth Anger - Puce Moment from jeune et jolie on Vimeo.
Please note: no copyright infringement is intended...I just love this movie and wanted to share it! If you're intrigued, there are some beautiful boxed sets of Anger's films out on DVD and available at Amazon and Movies Unlimited.

Inexpensive Inspirations: Find Your Inner Fashion Icon!

Today I want to give you a glimpse of a few of the women that influence my style, but as I pondered what I like about them, I realized that too often when we look to others for style inspiration we end up focusing on lack: I wish I had hair like that, I have to have those clothes, I can't afford any of it! And it hit me that it is not so much the clothes, the makeup etc. that I admire in these women but a certain attitude, each with a distinct brand of joie de vivre that is communicated through style. Thinking about what qualities you most admire in your favorite fashion plates and what moods they convey that are so appealing can get you thinking about the same aspects in yourself --how can you express these attitudes, themes, feelings through your own personal style? How can you find & cultivate your inner fashion icon?

Shoestring Reads: In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

If you've read my post Library Therapy for the Shopaholic you already know Shoestring Sally is a huge fan of libraries. When it comes to books, you can't beat free! For the voracious bookworm, however, resisting the lure of the bookstore can be a challenge. And there are some fantastic bookstores in Haute Hooverville! When I first moved here, I went a little overboard in the literature purchasing dept., but I have since devised a strategy to cope & save pennies. I always keep a little notebook in my bag & scores of pens. When perusing a bookstore, I find it helpful to jot down the titles that tempt me so I can then check them out of the library. And did you know that you can submit purchase requests to most libraries?! Of course, sometimes that means waiting for the latest reads --but I think, as a rule, our society would benefit from cultivating the art of delayed gratification. The U.S. has become a nation of Veruca Salts, stamping our feet and screaming, "I wan…

Shoestring Sharing: Support Art in Schools!

Philanthropy to fit your budget: You CAN make a difference! 
I was lucky enough to attend public schools that provided me regular access to art education. In elementary school, I got to play with paints, papers, pastels and more on a weekly basis. In high school I was able to try my hand at more advanced crafts: cutting away at blocks of linoleum for printmaking and learning drawing techniques like pointillism & cross-hatching. But not everyone is so lucky. There are so many schools out there that are sorely underfunded and one of the hardest hit areas is the arts. Schools across the U.S., particularly in low-income communities both rural and urban, struggle just to be able to offer up-to-date text books & keep up with regular grounds maintenance.
So if you're looking for a way to give, I urge you to donate art supplies to a school in need--be it in your community or a little farther afield. And it doesn't have to be fancy: packets of construction paper, markers, crayons…